Brown, Beautiful & Blowing Up! Jazz Saxophonist on The Rise! Erisa NicoleI's One To Watch And Hear!

Updated: May 21

Erisa's many attributes can be described in many words, but I will begin with "spectacular". Upon discovering Erisa Nicole online, I was blown away by her ability to play the saxophone with such power, passion, and skill. Obviously, I'm biased since she's a female saxophonist. Perhaps because I'm female myself. There are women who do things that some believe we are not capable of, and I have deep admiration for them.

I am in no way dismissing the outstanding roles which our amazing men play in our society, but I believe that women do a lot of things as well, and this needs to be acknowledged. In this article, I chose to bring it to the forefront. While I was blown away by Erisa's talent, I was equally impressed with her character. Among all of her qualities, I was most impressed by her love for God. In our conversation, we discussed a lot of things concerning her musical journey and some of the challenges she faces as a female saxophonist. Here is what she shared.

Hi Erisa, how are you doing?  I’m good, how are you? 

Oh, I am having an amazing day. Thank you so much for your time. Of course, no worries at all. 

Are you in San Diego? Yes, and it's hot!  

Oh no! I hear you! Surviving the heat in palm springs in the summertime is a miracle in and of itself! (laughs) Yes! 

First and foremost, I want to thank you again, and I'm honored to be able to speak with such a talented and amazing artist like yourself.  Ah, thank you very much. 

You're welcome. So, tell me Erisa, were you born and raised in San Diego, CA?  Yes, I was born and raised right here in San Diego. 

Awesome! How long have you been playing?  Professionally I've been playing for about 12 years. 

How did you get your start? My father, who is a musician and a pastor, played the organ and piano. When I was about 6 years old, I learned how to play the piano and began playing in church. Around 12 years old, I became classically trained. 

At what age did playing the saxophone become of interest to you?  Around middle school. I wanted to be in the band, so the instrument that I started with was the clarinet. Unfortunately, I hated it. When I told my dad how I felt about playing that instrument, he told me that I had to stick with it because that's the instrument I chose.  

Yes. That's what we call an old-school dad. My dad was just like your dad. He was a pastor; a musician and he was strict. Yes. In my eagerness to become a member of the band, I chose the clarinet without thinking much about it. My desire to be in the band was immense. I thought the band sounded great, and I was excited to be a part of it. 

So, one day, we went to a Thanksgiving concert, and I witnessed a woman playing the saxophone. I was mesmerized when I saw her.  Her name is Angela Christy and she's a gospel saxophonist. That was the first time that I had ever seen a female playing saxophone. After seeing her play, I begged my father to buy me a saxophone for Christmas. 

Did he budge?  Initially, no. Because he had already purchased the clarinet, he kept saying no.  The expectation I had was crushed. I did everything in my power to persuade him that I would practice, but he refused. In my junior year of high school, he finally caved in and bought me a saxophone for Christmas. 

Did you start taking lessons right away?  Initially, I was self-taught. My parents noticed my interest and realized I was serious, so they sought some help, and I was able to take a few lessons here and there. That's how my journey began. 

Wow, that’s awesome! You mentioned that you were classically trained, where did you get your schooling? Although I attended Point Loma Nazarene University here in San Diego, California, most of my musical experience came from playing in church. I'm a church girl.  

Awesome!  Yes, I played for the choir and directed the choir. The interesting thing is, I never really played saxophone in church. Although I primarily play organ and piano, lots of people asked the pastor if I could also play the Sax because, at that time, my dad left that church and went back to our home church. Shortly after that, I began to drift over into a different language, and that is smooth jazz.

Let's talk about your professional career. At what point did you know you wanted to play saxophone for a living? Honestly, I don't view playing saxophone as a job, it’s my passion and purpose. I was created by God to pour the love of God into everyone that I encounter, especially through the music that I play. 

I kind of knew early on that it was my purpose to bless people. I didn't have the full picture, but I knew that it was something special that I was put on this earth to do.

A lady who I referred to as my aunt died of breast cancer. Before she died, she told me that God designed me with the purpose of spreading His word. At that moment, I didn't understand what she meant by that profound statement. But now? I understand what she was trying to say. And yes, God did design me to do this. This is my purpose in life and passion.